Plurals in German

Plurals in German German Language Coach

There are several different ways to form plurals in German. It can be difficult to predict plural endings with complete certainty, and therefore, once again, learners are advised to learn the plural forms when they first encounter a noun in the same way that they would learn the genders of nouns in German.

Learners of German will, as they progress, encounter certain patterns in the plural formation. Here are some tips on how to form plurals.

Plural in -n or -en

A large number of nouns fall into this category, including feminine nouns ending in:

-e die Schule, die Schulen

-ei die Bäckerei, die Bäckereien

-heit die Weisheit, die Weisheiten

-in die Studentin, Studentinnen

-keit die Schwierigkeit, die Schwierigkeiten

-schaft die Freundschaft, die Freundschaften

-ung die Wohnung, die Wohnungen

All nouns with the following endings:

-ant der Diamant, die Diamanten

-ent der Präsident, die Präsidenten

-enz die Referenz, die Referenzen

-ie die Batterie, die Batterien

-ik die Kritik, die Kritiken

-ion die Tradition, die Traditionen

-ist der Spezialist, die Spezialisten

-oge der Biologe, die Biologen

-tät die Universität, die Universitäten

Plural in -e or umlaut + -e

The ending -e is taken by many masculine or neuter monosyllabic nouns. Most monosyllabic nouns have more than one syllable in the plural.

der Film, die Filme

der Hund, die Hunde

der Schuh, die Schuhe

der Tisch, die Tische

der Tag, die Tage

In many such nouns, an umlaut appears on the stressed vowel.

der Stuhl, die Stühle

der Plan, die Pläne

der Kran, die Kräne

Umlaut + -e ending is found in a number of feminine nouns too:

die Hand, die Hände

die Wand, die Wände

die Wurst, die Würste

Nouns ending in:

-är der Millionär, die Millionäre

-eur der Ingeneur, die Ingeneure

No change in the plural:

Most masculine nouns ending in:

-el der Löffel, die Löffel

-en der Streifen, die Streifen

-er der Koffer, die Koffer

All diminutives:

-chen dąs Mädchen, die Mädchen

-lein das Entlein, die Entlein

Plural in umlaut only:

The stressed vowel receives an umlaut in the plural without any other changes:

der Apfel, die Äpfel

der Bruder, die Brüder

der Laden, die Läden

die Tochter, die Töchter

Plural in -er or umlaut + er

The -er ending appears mainly in monosyllabic neuter nouns and a few monosyllabic masculine nouns:

das Ei, die Eier

das Kleid, die Kleider

das Lied, die Lieder

der Geist, die Geister

Wherever there is a vowel which can take an umlaut, there is an umlaut with the -er ending:

das Dach, die Dächer

der Mann, die Männer

der Wald, die Wälder

Plural in -s

Nouns that derive from English, French and Italian over the past century:

das Baby, die Babys (note it isn’t the English plural form!)

der Park, die Parks

das Hotel, die Hotels

das Radio, die Radios

das Restaurant, die Restaurants

der Scheck, die Schecks


der LKW, die LKWs

das AKW, die AKWs

Other plural forms

Words from Greek and Latin ending in -os, -us, or -um usually take -en in Plural:

das Museum, die Museen

das Visum, die Visen

das Epos, die Epen

der Globus, die Globen

Some nouns from Latin retain the Latin plural forms:

das Tempus, die Tempora 

das Tempo, die Tempi

der Genus die Genera

das Korpus, die Porpora

Nouns ending in -ma have their plural in -men:

die Firma, die Firmen

das Thema, die Themen

Double plural forms:

Some nouns which are identical in form in the singular but whose gender depends on the meaning have different plural forms. There are also nouns with two meanings whose singular form and gender are the same but have divergent plural forms:

die Bank, die Bänke (bench)

die Bank, die Banken (bank)

die Mutter, die Mütter (mother)

die Mutter, die Muttern (nut i.e. for bolts)

das Wort, die Wörter (single word)

das Wort, die Worte (connected words)

Hopefully, the above has been insightful and is an aid to learning the German plural forms.

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